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Essential Captain America: Art by Kirby, Steranko and Colan!

Updated on October 27, 2014

Captain America in the late 1960s: Art By Legends Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko and Gene Colan

Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 2 contains Captain America Nos. 103-126 from 1968-1970. Captain America had been splitting the Tales of Suspense comic book series with Iron Man through issue No. 99, and the title was renamed Captain America with No. 100.

Reading the first 18 issues of this collection you get the sense that writer Stan Lee must have liked the extra pages available once Captain America had his own book, because the stories here are deeper and more interesting than the ones in the first collection.

Lee, who wrote all the stories in this collection, had the opportunity to work with wonderful artists who helped lift the tales to great heights. Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko and Gene Colan did the bulk of the issues in this volume. The only two fill-in issues were done by John Romita and John Buscema, both high-quality artists in their own right!

So while any fan of Captain America would like the stories in this volume, it is the art that really stands out. Following are some of the highlights of this Marvel Essential book, which has the ISBN 0785108270

Buy Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 2 Today!

Captain America 112 Jack Kirby
Captain America 112 Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby's Captain America

The Co-Creator of Captain American at His Best

Legendary Jack Kirby, who co-created Captain America back in 1941, drew the first seven issues of this collection, then returned for an encore performance in issue No. 112 when artist Jim Steranko fell behind in his work.

Kirby is at his finest here when Captain America is in action. At this point in the 1960s no one represented Marvel Comics' energy and dynamite story-telling the way Kirby did.

Issue No. 112 is a lot of fun for a fill-in job. Captain America is presumed dead at the end of No. 111, and in this issue Iron Man updates Captain America's Avengers file, recounting the hero's career from fighting the Nazis to being frozen in ice to his revival in the mid-1960s. This gives Kirby the opportunity to draw many, many scenes of Captain America in action and is a real treat.

Of special note is issue No. 109, which retells Captain America's origin.

Captain America 110 Hulk
Captain America 110 Hulk

Captain America vs. the Incredible Hulk in Steranko's debut!

Captain America No. 110

Jim Steranko's stay on Captain America was extremely brief -- just three issues (Captain America 110, 111, 113). But those three issues are masterpieces! His pages jump off the page, filled with energy, and his Captain America had more litheness to him than previous artists.

Captain America No. 110 starts with a six-page fight with the Hulk. Steranko perfectly captures the Hulk's anguish and madness with every look, and his image of the monster is slimmer than many other artists.

The fight serves to re-introduce Rick Jones into Captain America's world. The teenager, who was unwittingly the cause of the Hulk's creation, had hung around Captain America in the early issues of the Avengers. Writer Stan Lee brings the two together again to try out Rick Jones as a new version of Bucky, Captain America's former partner who had died in World War II.

The issue then shifts to the beginning of a fight against the evil organization Hydra and introduces the villainess Madame Hydra. And the way Steranko drew her one can understand how men could be led into a life of crime by her charms!

Captain America No. 111 Steranko
Captain America No. 111 Steranko

Captain America vs. Madame Hydra

Captain America Shot to Death?

Writer Stan Lee had Captain America reveal his secret identity as Steve Rogers to the world a number of issues ago, and Captain America No. 111 starts with Hydra setting a trap for Captain America through his Steve Rogers identity. Though Captain America wins, he realizes that he will never be safe as long as the world knows who he really is.

Hydra then kidnaps Rick Jones after gassing him in a two-page sequence that is Dali-esque. Captain America goes in search of his partner and the issue ends with Captain America diving off a pier into a hail of bullets. All that is fished out is part of his costume and a Steve Rogers mask, which leads people to believe that Captain America is dead and that the Steve Rogers identity was fake.

Steranko includes a great two-page spread of Captain America tackling some gangsters on top of a car in this issue. It is gorgeous.

Captain America 117 Falcon first appearance
Captain America 117 Falcon first appearance

Gene Colan and the Debut of the Falcon!

The first African-American Superhero!

Gene Colan drew issues issues 116-126. He took over with the second issue of a great five-part fight against the Red Skull, who has managed to use the Cosmic Cube to switch bodies with Captain America. Captain America, trapped in the Red Skull's body, is attacked by enemies of the villain. He triumphs against them and beats the Red Skull in the end.

The highlight of the five issues is No. 117, which introduced the Falcon -- the first African-American superhero by a major comic book company.

Unfortunately, after the Red Skull saga, writer Stan Lee seemed to exhaust himself on the series, and the final seven issues are pretty forgettable. Colan continues with his great art, but there's a sense of aimlessness to the book that is disappointing.

Steranko? Kirby? Colan? How Do You Decide?

Jim Steranko Captain America
Jim Steranko Captain America

Which of the artists in this collection do you think was the best for Captain America? Or maybe you think there's someone else who drew the superhero better?

Here is your turn to vote!

p.s. The above illustration is one of the great two-page spreads that Jim Steranko did during his short run. Maybe that will influence your vote!

Which of the artists in this volume was the best for Captain America?

See results

Marvel Essentials vs. Marvel Masterworks - More Stories or Full Color?

Marvel Essentials and Marvel Masterworks are the two reprint series of Marvel Comics.

The Marvel Essentials series reprints the stories in black and white, on lesser quality paper, but each collection contains more than twice as many stories as the Marvel Masterworks. The Masterworks have fewer stories in each volume, but they are published in full color that presents the tales in all their original glory.

Which is better -- Marvel Essentials or Marvel Masterworks?

Marvel Essentials Series - Collect All Your Favorite Stories in a Cost-Effective Way!

The Marvel Essential series reprints many of Marvel Comics' stories in large volumes that contain several hundred pages. The series began in 1997 with the publication of the Essential X-Men No. 1 and Essential Spider-Man No. 1. Many of the volumes have been printed more than once, with different covers, so don't let that throw you off when buying. Check to make sure which volume number you are considering.

The huge advantage to these volumes is cost: a reader can get 30 or more stories for about what a half dozen new comic books cost, and the old stories have more pages of action per issue. The Essentials books are much more cost-effective than buying all the original comics as well.

A quick search for ''Marvel Essentials'' on Amazon reveals a whopping 674 items. I'm sure several are duplicates, but even so there should be one available for every comic-book fan!

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Geppi's Entertainment Museum

See Early Captain America Comics in Baltimore!

If you are ever in Baltimore check out Geppi's Entertainment Museum for one of the greatest comic-book collections on display anywhere. See my lens for more details on what you can expect during a visit!

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Here's your chance to speak up about Captain America, the collection of comic book stories, this review or anything else you want to mention!

Thanks for stopping by!

What do You Think of These Captain America Tales? - Now it's Your Turn to Speak Up!

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    • wildbluefrontier profile image

      Nathan M 4 years ago from Tucson

      Well I'll shamefacedly admit that I'm not much of a Kirby fan. Steranko and Colan on the other hand I like very much. There are some great Captain America tales in these books.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      Your articles are always amazing. I know that Captain America is popular but my favorite will always be cartoons like Richie Rich and Archie (I have no class lol).

    • FloridaDino profile image

      FloridaDino 4 years ago

      Cap is my favorite Marvel character (I've done a lens for him too!), these were great stories. My favourite run though was the 80's Stern/ Byrne run.

    • sbconcepts profile image

      sbconcepts 4 years ago

      This is some really great info on one of my son's favorite Heroes. I will have to get him to take a read when he gets in from school. Thanks for a great squidoo!

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this fun comic lens "Essential Captain America: Art by Kirby, Steranko and Colan!"